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Queens Drive

Promontory Fort (Period Unassigned)(Possible)

Site Name Queens Drive

Classification Promontory Fort (Period Unassigned)(Possible)

Canmore ID 290197

Site Number NO12NW 114

NGR NO 115 261

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/290197

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Perth And Kinross
  • Parish Scone
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Perth And Kinross
  • Former County Perthshire

Archaeology Notes

NO12NW 114 115 261

NO 115 261 By the 18th century the town of Scone was confined to the upper part of Chantor Gate and the road running north-east from the site of the market cross. It is evident from Roy's Military Survey of 1747-55 that the area south of Catmore Burn was under cultivation, and there is extensive evidence of ridge and furrow here. However there is a significant and defendable promontory here as well (around NO 115261), west of Queen's Drive, between The Den and a dry valley two hundred metres south, which I have not seen discussed elsewhere, which potentially answers the defendable requirement for an early historic Royal Centre at Scone. The Den forms a deep ravine here, although the dry valley is much more open and shallower, but with steeper parts of the profile that still give it defensive potential. There is also a possible line of defence at NO 117259,117260 and 117261, partly a natural scarp, and partly what appears to be a double bank, northwards from the head of the dry valley, which would give the top of the resulting promontory fort a length of 450 metres, and a width of up to 150 metres. A few minor features were noted here, including a circular enclosure which might just be an old plantation round, but needs to be considered in the context of early Scone.

The evidence for a defensive line is however open to debate, as there could be other reasons to account for it, including past estate management. It extends from Gallows Knowe, nearly parallel to Queen's Drive, for about 90 metres. A similar feature re-appears west of Queen's Drive, at the head of the dry valley, extant for about 40 metres, but on a different alignment. Projected they would meet at an angle of 115 degrees, but if one and the same feature, this might have been achieved by a curve. The Gallows Knowe part presents a steep natural scarp to the east, and the locus is the logical one if this promontory was defended. The feature comprises twin banks with a ditch between, total width 20 metres. The Gallows Knowe end looks like a bridge-head embankment, though available accounts of the shift from Chantor Gate to Queen's Drive as the approach to Scone Palace does not appear to suggest an intermediate crossing of Catmore Burn. The depression between the banks could result from use as a hollow way, although there is no obvious continuation. A third possibility is that they are headlands delimiting blocks of cultivation ridges. There is a headland continuing south-east on the Chapelhill side of the dry valley, which is on a similar alignment but offset 10 metres east, with another bank at right angles east. The Chapelhill area has distinct cultivation ridges in relation to these banks. It would be difficult for the double banks to survive without a function contemporary with the cultivation. Also, given the town extended to here in the 16th century, the double bank might be part of that infrastructure. There is a low profile double bank, 20 metres wide, parallel to the Gallows Hill part, but 40 metres west, extending across the promontory. However I have not seen anything else in the vicinity of Scone that could better fulfil the defendable aspect of an early historic Scone.

The circular enclosure within the promontory lies just north-east of the cambered drive descending the dry valley about 100 metres from Queen's Drive, centred about NO 11642609. It is about 33 metres diameter over a bank 3 to 5 metres broad depending on structural variations. On sloping aspects south and west it includes a scarp and bank while on north-east aspects there is just a faint low bank. There is a large beech tree 15 metres north-east. There is one large and decayed tree stump on the bank on the west side, which might imply a circular plantation, but the inconsistencies of construction of the bank suggest an earlier function. The cambered drive extending along the north side of the dry valley is unusual, west of the circle creating a terrace with a very steep scarp falling to the valley floor, in excess of the need to construct a road, and might be using an older feature. In conifer woodland at the end of the promontory a terrace along an even contour might just be later landscaping, while south of the plantation below the summit crest overlooking The Den are some large rocks (stone clearance ?) and a faint curved bank.

Dr T C Welsh, 2007.

Activities

Field Visit

NO 115 261 Documentary research deposited with RCAHMS (Acq No 2007/138) identified a number of late 16th-century feus which show that the town of Scone extended S of Catmore Burn / Monks Den. The 18th-century village was probably planned in conjunction with Scone Palace on Abbey land, with the original settlement to the S, on both banks of Catmore Burn, then called Craigie Burn. There is a promontory between Monks Den and

a dry valley to S, W of Queen’s Drive, 450m long by up to 150m wide, which could have been defended in early historic or medieval times. The main evidence on the ground includes many banks of possibly post-medieval agricultural origin, but there is a double bank 22m wide, for 90m E of Queen’s Drive and 40m W, totalling 250m. This extends in a curve S of Gallows Knowe at NO 1172 2633 to NO 1169 2595. There is a faint double bank parallel to this 40m W. On the S edge of the promontory at NO 1164 2609, is a circular enclosure 33m diameter over 35m bank.

Report deposited with RCAHMS (Acq No 2007/198).

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